Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Simple Explanation (Score 2) 219

by gewalker (#48919805) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

You don't have to cheat Einstein to populate the galaxy. Nanotech based Von Neumann machines could easily spread out and cover our galaxy in a million years, the technology is certainly not impossible, indeed it is likely to be developed in the relatively near future should we decide to do so, and the possibility to live indefinitely in mechanical or biological bodies does not seem to be impossible either.

What could we do in a 1000 or 10,000 years. The Fermi Paradox is entirely valid given the assumptions normally made for the prevalence of complex life that would be millions or billions of years ahead of us.

Comment: Re:Still sounds like early flight... (Score 1) 90

by gewalker (#48906733) Attached to: Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

While it may be true that cost savings and the injury and grief associated with accidents is considerable. Few people are willing to pay for it. People want immediate intangible benefits.

Reduced insurance rates, reduced traffic jams including the use of the high-speed auto-drive lane, self-parking cars after drop-off, not having to chauffeur the kids, watching TV while "driving"

These are the reasons people will buy self-driving cars.

Comment: Except for not being true (Score 2, Insightful) 263

by gewalker (#48866611) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

Sure, there are large layoffs in the tech industry, but big layoffs are not a new thing.

Two of the largest layoffs in US history occurred in 1993. 60K employees at IBM and 50K employees at Sears/KMart.

Big layoffs are a result of other business conditions, including.

An actual need to cut expenses -- bloated, slow-moving companies find themselves in the condition of declining sales, and big losses.

A desire to increase profit margins, often linked to increased stock prices -- CEO's can get lots of bonus compensation in this form

A result of chopping up a company, perhaps resulting from a hostile takeover.

None of these are unique to technology companies.

Comment: Re:Hahahaha (Score 1) 496

by gewalker (#48797837) Attached to: Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs

Of course NASA budget grew during the moon race and fell after that. Since then it increased most under Reagan and Bush 41 and dropped under Nixon, Bush-43 and Obama.

If you look at who controlled Congress, you get a slightly different picture but is is true the NASA budget rise and fall with either party in charge.

Considering how few people vote based on the NASA budget, they are lucky to ever get any budget dollars.

Comment: Re: Solve problems on Earth first (Score 2) 287

by gewalker (#48744545) Attached to: Should We Be Content With Our Paltry Space Program?

There is lots of gold in space. One asteroid that NASA has looked at closely (Eros 433) has been estimated to contains trillions of dollars worth of gold at current prices as well as platinum, iron, nickel, etc.

It is usually considered the the bulk of the crustal gold and other heavy minerals were deposited on earth from asteroids during the late heavy bombardment.

Retrieving the gold, etc. from asteroids is certainly difficult and expensive using currently develop tech. but the gold is most certainly out there.

Comment: Re:As a proportion of the budget... (Score 3, Informative) 287

by gewalker (#48744181) Attached to: Should We Be Content With Our Paltry Space Program?

Maybe looking at percentage of Fed. budget or suchlike is not a good idea at all. How about constant dollars adjusted to 2014 from the Wikipedia article

This single highest year was 1966 spending 43.5 billion USD
By 1970 this had dropped to 23.0 billion
Bottomed out in 1980 at 14.3 billion
2013 was at 17.2 billion

Except for a few peak years at the height of the moon race, NASA budgets have been relatively consistent (usually between 15 and 20 billion 2014 dollars)

Comment: Coming soon to another episode of Ancient Aliens (Score 5, Insightful) 381

And the ancient planes also had the ability to fly between planets too. Don't think that these claims will stand up to review.

Ancient peoples were just as smart as us, but you need time to build the necessary tech. base in order to make advanced equipment so that you can discover advanced scientific theories and engineering disciplines.

Comment: Re:why is it always comets and asteroids? (Score 3, Insightful) 46

by gewalker (#48552007) Attached to: Asteroid Impacts May Have Formed Life's Building Blocks

IMO, these announcements really don't really contribute anything meaninful. We pretty much know that simple organic molecules can form in a number of ways. Miller-Urey taught us quite a while ago that the basic precusrsor components were easily formed with basic chemistry that exists in nature.

Getting the components to dance together as a living entity is a tremendously more difficult and unsolved problem. According to all we know abiogenisis is very improbable -- even with eons of chemicals doing their thing.

Comment: Re:Antiquated technology (Score 1) 342

by gewalker (#48499915) Attached to: Breath Test For Pot Being Developed At WSU

Age 55. I have never consumed alcohol. Never been at fault in an accident. I could not pass the standard field sobriety test ever -- I have a bad left leg that simply prevents it -- do not have much strength in that leg.

My inability to balance on one leg has nothing to do with my ability to drive.

Thanks, I'll gladly recite the alphabet forwards or backwards, let the cop shine a light in my eye, take a blood test, etc. walking the line heel to toe will always be a fail for me though I am perfectly fine as a driver.

If someone has a BAC of .2 but can still walk a line, he has no business on the road. Reactions and more importantly judgment is impaired, without any question -- at least according to the CDC.

Comment: Re:is it really bad in the first place? (Score 1) 342

by gewalker (#48499595) Attached to: Breath Test For Pot Being Developed At WSU

Yes, people do not enjoy spending time in person, or wrecking their cars or other consequences. So, while they are still sober, they modify their behavior by planning ahead not to drive drunk, e.g., arranging for designated drivers. Of course, this is not universal.

Once drunk, their inhibitions removed, they do not properly consider penalties associated with drunk driving.

Comment: Re: How is that startling? (Score 1) 413

by gewalker (#48483289) Attached to: Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election

Your requested evidence

Since you need relatively few fraudulent votes to tip tight elections, how much vote fraud is OK. It is often accepted that Kennedy won over Nixon due to fraud. Likewise for Johnson in Texas. These are old races. How about Gore v Bush in Florida, only a few hundred votes officially -- well within the margin of fraud as documented by many of the examples in the linked article.

The correct amount of fraud is as little as possible. The correct amount of voter suppression is a little as possible. To a certain degree these are conflicting goals. There are some additional methods to help -- such as provisional ballots. Life is not perfect, but voter ID is clearly effective in reducing voter fraud, but it is not necessarily a tool of voter suppression -- and the Supreme Court has supported this.

"We shall reach greater and greater platitudes of achievement." -- Richard J. Daley